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Games

I Think I Killed 'Hitman'

How irrational buying habits kept me away from one of last year's greatest games.

by Rob Zacny
May 24 2017, 1:45pm

courtesy Square Enix

Sooooo how's everybody doing this morning? Oh, me? I'm good… well, actually, just between us, I'm a little worried I accidentally killed the Hitman franchise.

I mean, not me personally. It's not like I slipped up behind 47 with a length of piano wire and sent him to wherever Kane & Lynch have ended up. But I have to admit that despite hours of podcasts about the game, countless gifs and videos, and near-daily reminders from Austin that, "Dude, you gotta play this game" I never actually bought Hitman. I came close! But I never "executed the contract" as you might say. And here we are, with the series' future looking grim and layoffs hitting Io Interactive as the studio tries to transition to a post-Square Enix future.

I know it's not really rational, but each time I considered buying the game, something about the piecemeal nature of its release turned me off. Some stupid, lab-monkey part of my brain looked at a game that added up to one of the best games of 2016, maybe one of the best games of this decade, and decided that I didn't want to be buying a game for $10 per level. Never mind that it added up to a typical $60 game. There was some kind of mental tripwire between me and Hitman that I hit every time I loaded it into my Steam shopping cart.

And judging from where the game placed in Steam's best-sellers list, I suspect I'm not the only person who was weirdly turned-off from a game they would have liked. Despite the fact that the value-proposition turned out to be terrific and that it absolutely wasn't a nickel-and-dime model… it irrationally felt like one.

I know that humans are bad at assessing all kind of decisions, and in the scheme of things failing to buy a good video game is probably the least of my sins. But I'm also struck by how often I find sales models discouraging now, becoming demoralized as I look up lists of "must-have" DLC and how the costs add up. Yet I'm also stunned when I look at my Steam library and contemplate the small fortune I have spent on "bargains" that I have never and likely will never play.

If I had to guess about this particular aspect of my irrationality, it's that the Hitman model didn't satisfy an under-appreciated need: the illusion of time. Buying a complete game promises so many possibilities, and maybe also the leisure to appreciate them. How many people never finished The Witcher 3 but just like knowing that whole world is still out there somewhere, waiting for them?


But a single level? It fits inside your busy day. Less an escape than a long pause. And quite unfairly, my brain somehow feels entitled to more from a game.

Anyway, that's my irrational hang-up about our brave new video game economy, but what's yours? What's the dumb shit you buy that you know you're taking a bath on, and what experiences do you know you let yourself be cheated out of?

Let us know in today's open thread!